Spicy Lasagna with Sausage Meatballs ~ this hearty meal is secretly light and delicate thanks to the fresh sheets of pasta I used in place of regular lasagna noodles.
You know those odd cool days that happen once in a while in the spring and summer? The ones that have you rifling through your closet for a cozy sweatshirt? And praying that the sun will break through the clouds for just a minute so you can warm your chilled bones? We’re having that kind of weather lately, it’s called June Gloom. It’s a weather pattern that settles over Southern California this time of year. The mornings are shrouded in a cool misty marine layer that sometimes lasts throughout the day. True Californians despise June Gloom. They resent having to take off their sunglasses, and I don’t think they own any sweaters.
This is my answer to June Gloom.
A huge pan of extra cheesy lasagna spiced up with chili pepper and topped with a layer of little sausage meatballs swimming in molten mozzerella.
- olive oil
- 1 lb spicy Italian sausage (I used turkey)
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 large handful parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 1 large jar of your favorite pasta sauce (at least 24 oz)
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1 8 oz package of fresh pasta sheets (you need 5)
- Set oven to 350F
- Heat a large pan on medium heat and drizzle in a little oil oil. Take the sausage meat out of its casing by squeezing small balls of the meat out with your hands. Let them drop into the pan. Cook the sausage until golden brown and cooked through, shaking the pan to make sure the meat gets browned on all sides. Set aside.
- Mix the ricotta, egg and parsley together in a bowl until the egg is thoroughly incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside
- Heat the sauce to a simmer on the stove with the chili flakes and fennel seed.
- Drizzle a little more oil on the bottom of your lasagna pan. Lay one of the pasta sheets down and spoon about a fifth of the ricotta mixture over it. Sprinkle on some mozzarella and then ladle on some of the sauce. Follow with four more pasta sheets, layering them with the cheeses and sauce.
- Finish with a top layer of pasta. Spread it with the last of the ricotta, and then lay your meatballs evenly across the entire top. Drizzle sauce over the meatballs, and then cover with the rest of the mozzarella.
- Cover loosely with non-stick foil, and bake for about an hour, until bubbly and hot throughout.
- This lasagna is lighter and more delicate than it looks because I used the fresh sheets of pasta. They are so much lighter than regular lasagna noodles and make the dish less stodgy and filling. You can use regular lasagna noodles of course, but the fresh are well worth the little extra expense; remember you’re getting a lot of meals out of this casserole. Because the filling is minimal, the layers of fresh pasta meld with the cheese into an almost custard-like consistency; it’s a nice change of pace.
Actually, this is my homage to June Gloom. I admit it, I kinda like this weather. I get to wear my Ugg boots, and eat lasagna.
But don’t tell anyone, them’s fighting words around these parts.